Sunday, 1 August 2010

Nichols' From Newman to Congar

Aidan Nichols' book, From Newman to Congar (1990), is a real find. I came to it through the Conclusion that I found on the net: eminently readable, and provocative, speaking about the stasis on doctrinal development reached both in the thoughts of Rahner, Schillebeeckx and Congar and in the Council, and then about the coming apart of this stasis or synthesis in all three major theologians in the post-conciliar period, summarized in the three notions of pluralism (Rahner), hermeneutics (Schillebeeckx), and reception (Congar).

The lovely thing was to find Nichols' book in our library. I am reading this just now. Nichols is very readable, and Englishly lucid. So I don't struggle. But: his Conclusion really sets the case, and opens up the can of worms. But it is disappointing, because it says nothing more. Does he say this in the next promised book, which also, providentially, I happened to find in our library - The Shape of Catholic Theology? To be seen. At any rate, I think the problem is being set.

Where would Lonergan fit in, in all this? Nichols has a brief something to say on Lonergan, who he couples with Tracy; but I think his treatment is far from complete or satisfactory.

How does Lonergan hold up against pluralism, hermeneutics and reception? That is the interesting question.

Anyway, one thing is becoming clear, also from Nichols himself: the key issue regards propositional truth (From Newman 16). Nichols says there is no Catholic Christianity without this. Surprising, because Guy Mansini ("The Abiding Theological Significance of Henri de Lubac's Surnaturel," The Thomist 73/4 [2009] 593-620) seems to be saying that de Lubac and Balthasar are involved in a Platonizing of theology... and Nichols is a Balthasar scholar.

But: checking out Mansini in a blog entry below, I found this: the distinction between Lonergan and the Communio theologians (de Lubac and Balthasar included) is that the latter want to abandon the scientific character of theology.

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